Social Changes In The US Durring WW2
Social Change in the United States
During World War II
As the possibility of a second World War arose people began to form opinions on the United States role in Europe. The general population disagreed on whether or not to get involved in the conflict with Germany. Some people believed in interventionism, the theory that the United States should do everything it could to support Britain without declaring war on Germany. Along with William Allen White they formed the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Others supported the idea of isolationism, which said that the United States should defend itself first. The supporters of isolationism formed the Committee to Defend America First which was supported mainly by pacifists and socialists and well as democrats and republicans. The majority of Americans were against the involvement of the United States. Congress acted on this general opinion by enacting neutrality laws and appropriating little money for the army and navy. Because of its poor funding, in 1939, the United States Army was small and ranked only 39th in the world. Much of its artillery was still drawn by horses (Harris, 17).
After Japans surprise attack on Pearl Harbor the opinion of the American people drastically changed. Isolationism was eliminated virtually overnight. Most Americans thought they were fighting for President Roosevelts four freedoms:
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression...everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way...everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want...everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear...everywhere in the world.
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress, January 6,1941 (National Archives and Records Administration)
Once the United States joined the war it was immediately realized that the armed forces needed to be built up before it could be effective. Flocks of American men, outraged from the Pearl Harbor incident, voluntarily signed up for the army and navy. Those Americans who couldnt join the armed forces helped the war effort by volunteering to grow their own vegetables in make-shift gardens. In 1941 the Secretary of Agriculture formally suggested the use of these victory gardens. The victory gardens were planted anywhere they could be, in such places as va...